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The Beltway Beat: October 2017
A fresh look at what's new in the Washington metropolitan area

Free State Frights

By Pam Schipper
Maryland may be small, but this time of year the Free State emits a mighty scream. Known for years as a howling good Halloween destination with legendary attractions like Markoff’s Haunted Forest in Poolesville, Field of Screams in Olney, and Bennett’s Curse in Baltimore, Maryland's latest haunts compete to scare the candy corn out of you.
CarnEVIL features bad vibes for a good cause. Proceeds benefit first responders.
CarnEVIL at Merriweather Park tells the “real” story of amusement park owner Archibald Evil, who died onsite a century ago. This 18-acre Halloween fright-fest features mutant sideshow freaks, demented clowns, and escaped circus animals. After the scare, you can relax with fair food, cocktails, mocktails, live music and more. If you’re bringing young ones—and please note that most of this attraction is really scary—think about bringing them into the “Abandoned Circus” during kid-friendly shows at 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. No live actors or animatronics are used, and kids won’t see adult stuff like abductions, human sacrifices, fire-breathing dragons and the boogey man (yikes!).
Produced by Disaster Preparedness DC, Inc., proceeds from this attraction benefit first responders and disaster preparedness. CarnEVIL runs on select nights through Nov. 5 at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in Columbia. For more information, visit
You never know what lurks in an abandoned department store.
Baltimore’s Nevermore Haunt in historic Old Town takes you back to the 1800s when, it appears, mangled factory workers, deranged serial killers, unlicensed physicians and vengeful sailors walked the city streets. This haunted house is in the Kaufman’s Department Store, which closed in the 1990s and has been haunted by the spirits of the past ever since. Before it was Kaufman’s, it was The Great House of Isaac Benesch and Sons, a furniture emporium founded in the late 1800s. The Old Town area has also seen its share of tragedy, including the Great Fire of Baltimore in 1904 and the race riots after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. 
Take the Haunt Shuttle Service from Fells Point to add a bit more excitement to what promises to be a terror-filled night. And new this year—beer! So, if all that screaming makes you thirsty, this haunted house has you covered. The Nevermore Haunt, located at 450 Mott St., is an adults-only attraction that runs through Nov. 4. For more information, visit
Fear is on the marquee in Laurel.
Now in its fourth year, Laurel’s House of Horror was named “Top Haunted House” in DC and Maryland by FrightFind. Found inside an abandoned movie theater in the back corner of the Laurel Centre Shopping Center, this House of Horror brings sensory overload and all manner of sinister entities. Owners invited Chesapeake Ghost Hunters to investigate the site for paranormal activity, and bona fide spirits were detected! The creepy old movie theater now also offers four themed escape rooms that operate year-round. Test your fears and your mind in “Escape the Movies,” “Seven Deadly Sins,” “Horror Stories, and “The Rising Dead.” Laurel’s House of Horror, located at 935 Fairlawn Ave., runs through Nov. 4. For more information on visit

Image: CarnEVIL features bad vibes for a good cause. Proceeds benefit first responders. Photo by CarnEVIL at Merriweather Park
The Art of Healing through Sculpture


By Vanessa Mallory Kotz
Artist Melissa Ichiuji has been experimenting with doll-making for decades to much acclaim and critical attention. Yet, these are no playthings. Rather, she builds finely crafted soft sculptures that evoke intense emotion, haunt viewers with unclaimed memories and radiate magic. She decided to share this powerful art form with novices and practiced artists alike during a series of workshops held in September and October with support from Artists & Makers Studios in Rockville. 
“I teach these classes because we have a deficit in our culture,” the artist said. “We have a deficit of connection to our interior lives, a lack of face-to-face connection and outlets for creative expression. I believe that a broader movement toward peace and joy begins with our own center of truth, and if more people attended to their emotional wellness through art making we would be a much healthier society.”
“Participants use journaling, movement and guided imagery to unlock the body and mind,” Ichiuji said, “and learn basic techniques for joining soft materials and meaningful artifacts to create a uniquely charged avatar doll aligned with [their] innermost fantasies.” The resulting works—which range from graceful ballerinas to lamenting widows—are a testament to Ichiuji’s ability to create a safe, warm, highly creative space for her students to express their deepest emotions and physical pain. 
“In our culture, self-indulgence is usually associated with easy fixes, narcissism and quick satisfaction, which all lead to feelings of emptiness and disconnection,” Ichiuji said. “My classes are definitely self-indulgent in the most constructive way. They encourage deep introspection and engagement.” The artist is offering one more opportunity to join this exceptional group and show your work.
Guise and Dolls 2 Day Workshop: October 28 & 29, 2017
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
New students will learn basic techniques for joining soft materials and meaningful artifacts to create a uniquely charged avatar doll aligned with their innermost fantasies. This is a beautiful way to release negativity, nurture self-compassion and dial in points of power and attraction.
Workshop Location: Town of Somerset Town Hall, 4510 Cumberland Ave. Chevy Chase, MD
Materials/Lunch provided.
All levels welcome; No prior experience necessary. 
Cost: $250
Workshop participants will show their finished pieces in “Progeny,” an exhibition of more than 25 self-portrait sculptures created by 20 students. “Each figure represents a significant turning point, epiphany or event in the maker’s life,” Ichiuji said, “and carries a spirit of transcendence and reawakening.”
“I could not be more proud of my beautiful, amazing students,” she added. “Please come on November 3 to check out the fantastic sculptures they’ve created.” 
Melissa Ichiuji is a DC native who graduated from the Duke Ellington School for the Arts and the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in DC, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich and New York. She was voted one of DC’s to 100 artists and her work has been featured in “The Washington Post,” “Art in America,” “NYArt,” “TextielPlus” and “Art Investor Magazine.”
“Progeny” is on view at Artists & Makers through November 21. In addition to the opening event, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m., the artists will gather for an informal talk about their creations on November 18th from 1 to 3 p.m.
Artists & Makers Studios is located at 11810 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, MD. For more information, visit
Image: Melissa Ichiuji teaches her Guise and Dolls workshop, the results of which will be on view in “Progeny” at Artists & Makers. Photo © Melissa Ichiuji 2017

The Smartest Girl in the World: An American story about dreams, family and survival
By Vanessa Mallory Kotz
In “The Smartest Girl in the World,” presented by Imagination Stage through October 29, young audiences are transported into the imagination of eight-year-old Lizzy, who entertains herself and big brother Leo with wonderful tales of princesses and harrowing adventures inhabited by fantastical creatures. Miriam Gonzalez’ play has been brought vividly to life in a collaboration with director Kathryn Chase Bryer and an original score by Tim Guillot. Using lighting, music and costumes, the audience gets to experience Lizzy’s inner life. “[Miriam] has a great sense of theatricality,” Chas Bryer said, “. . . I’ve worked really hard on that aspect of the play.”
Studious Leo and whimsical Lizzy are more than siblings and playmates—they look out for one another while their parents work long hours. When Leo learns of an opportunity at school to enter a TV quiz show contest, he’s determined to win. But his parents won’t let him participate because he has a chronic health condition. So, Lizzy decides on her own to enter the contest in his stead, win and prove she is the smartest girl in the world!
“I was inspired by children and their resiliency,” Gonzalez said. As a former fifth grade teacher in Alexandria, VA, Gonzalez was touched by the stories of children of immigrants—or immigrants themselves—who often had to take care of themselves and their siblings after school, plus do their homework. “It wasn’t sad or tragic. It’s just what they did,” she added, “[because] their parents worked around the clock.”
“She’s trying to help her older brother,” Chase Bryer said. “She mistakenly thinks that she’s going to save the day by doing it for him.” Lizzy gets a big big suprise when brother Leo is upset by her idea to take his place, and it affects their closeness. She is faced with a question: what’s more important—being the smartest girl in the world or her relationship with her brother"?
“It’s highly emotional and dramatic. I have really great actors,” Chase Bryer said of the all-Latino, adult cast, “and I have asked them to not hold back. Children feel a hundred percent, and they sometimes feel stronger emotions than we do as adults.”
“So many kids today are caught up in the idea of being rich, being famous,” she continued, “so for those kids who aren’t necessarily struggling [financially], they [too must] realize or come to realize that family is the most important thing, no matter what you have or don’t have.”
Run time 70 minutes; Best for ages 6+
Imagination Stage is located at 4908 Auburn Ave. Bethesda, MD
Tickets are $12-$30 and can be purchased through the box office (301) 280-1660 or by visiting
Image: Promotional poster for "The Smartest Girl in the World," courtesy of
Not Horsing Around: WAREDACA’s Brews Taste Best in Show
By Pam Schipper
Less than an hour from the heart of DC, Annapolis and Baltimore—and about half an hour from Rockville, Columbia and Frederick—the horse pastures, family-friendly picnic grounds and brewery of WAREDACA are the perfect weekend excursion. Located in Laytonsville, Maryland, on the edge of the Agricultural Reserve, WAREDACA Brewing Company opened in 2015 and is the first onsite farm brewery in Montgomery County. 
Despite its newness, WAREDACA is making inroads and garnering recognition on the craft brew scene. In 2016, “Washingtonian” magazine included WAREDACA in “25 DC-Area Breweries You Need to Know About.”
Ingredients in every beer are grown on the farm. In addition to hops, brews include vegetables, fruits, herbs and honey from their own bees. This month’s seasonal ale, the Grompkin, uses 100 pounds of smoked pumpkins, traditional spicing and vanilla. Seven other brews are available on tap now in the tasting room. Reveille, a stout made with Mayorga coffee and farm-grown hops, is perfect for a cool fall evening with its coffee and chocolate notes. Better suited to a balmy Sunday afternoon is the Beecher IPA, made with farm-grown lemon verbena and named after the farm’s patriarch, R. Beecher Butts.
While the brewery is new and run by the third generation of the Butts family, “the grandchildren,” according to our barkeep, the farm has long been a landmark in Montgomery County. The family has owned the land since the 1930s. In 1932, R. Beecher Butts founded a residential camp for boys. Twenty years later, this became the co-ed camp known as WAshington REcreational DAy CAmp and hosted generations of DC-area kids. Today, the farm is boasts of the area’s best equestrian event barns and riding lesson facilities. Some 80 horses today call it home. 
WAREDACA Brewing takes its name from the beloved summer camp, and it’s an exciting addition to the family farm, run by Steph and Keith Kohr, Rob Lang and Jess and Brett Snyder. Unique to this craft brewery is the farm location and its dedication to its roots--welcoming kids, horses, fresh air and food. 
While parents relax outdoors with a beer or a flight of five or seven 2-ounce brews, kids can run around, climb on tires and play yard games like cornhole. Fresh apple cider and a variety of snacks, including Mom’s spicy pretzels, may appeal to them. And families are welcome to bring their own picnic lunch or dinner. Be sure to taste the Cherry Glen goat cheese from Boyds. The Cherry Glen infusion chevre with rosemary and roasted garlic in olive oil is especially tasty. The cheese is jarred, suspended in the herb-infused oil. After polishing off the cheese, use the remaining oil on pasta for an amazing dish. 
Check the brewing company website for events. Friday often brings Pizza Drama, and live music happens every other weekend. For a special treat, sign up for a True Brew Trail Rides, Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. You’ll take a one-hour escorted trail ride on the 230-acre farm and then enjoy a flight of beers. If you would like a tour of the brewery and its 10-barrel system, just ask a barkeep in the tasting room. When the weather gets cooler, you can cozy up to an outdoor fire pit or relax in the beautifully rustic, 100 seat taproom.
For more information, visit The farm brewery is located at 4017 Damascus Road, Laytonsville, Maryland.

Image: Fantastic views beckon at the WAREDACA Brewing Company in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Relax and sample a flight from this local, sustainable micro-brewery. Hops are grown on the working horse farm. Photo by Pam Schipper

Concert: Tchaikovsky & Roundtree Sunday, Oct. 29, 3 p.m. Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic kicks off its 47th season with two special pieces. Local Virginia composer Ben Roundtree’s five movement “Symphony No. 1,” based on five of Roundtree’s spiritual and inspirational heroes and mentors, leads this first program of the season. Then the Philharmonic teams with rising local star violinist Leonid Sushansky to perform Tchaikovsky’s beloved virtuoso “Violin Concerto.” Overall lyrical, the concerto is in turns graceful and brilliant, then elegaic, and the piece finishes with a dazzling display of pyrotechnics.
Location: George Washington Masonic National Memorial, 101 Callahan Dr. Alexandria, VA 
Cost: $20; Free for 18 and under

XIII Fuego Flamenco Festival: Flamenco Extranjero (Flamenco Foreigner)  Friday, November 3 through Sunday, November 5. Edwin Aparicio, curator of GALA’s Fuego Flamenco Festival since its inception, will present unique stories from the perspective of non-Spaniards who chose flamenco as their life's passion and career and who have earned respect and acclaim for their mastery of the art form at home and in Spain. 
Location: GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW, Washington, DC
Information: (202) 234-7174;

J-Bird at Gypsy Sally’s Vinyl Lounge 
Friday, November 10, 8:30 p.m. Jason (Jay) Byrd has been a professional guitarist, singer and songwriter since his late teens. In his early twenties, he co-founded the blues-rock trio The Groov, and in 1996 joined the then-Grateful Dead cover band Wavy Train. Byrd's original songs and guitar work helped Wavy Train to forge a sound that combined pop-oriented melodies with extended improvisation. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Location: The Vinyl Lounge, 3401 K St. NW, Washington, DC
Information: (202) 3337700;
Cost: Free (21 and over)

CatVideoFest 2017 co-presented with Alley Cat Allies Saturday, November 18 and Sunday, November 19 Calling all cat ladies, cat gents and cat kids! CatVideoFest returns to AFI Silver with a pawsome brand new reel, expertly curated by filmmaker Will Braden (Henri, le Chat Noir) from the crème de la crème of this year's popular favorites, plus new and undiscovered cat videos. Come see adorable cat antics on the big screen, meet your fellow feline fanatics and learn more about how to help cats in DC and beyond through Alley Cat Allies. Expect photo ops with Frank the Feral Cat and other fun Meowpportunities!
Location: AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD
Information: (301) 495-6700;
Cost: $9.50-$13

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions for The Beltway Beat, please contact Vanessa Mallory Kotz at If you would like your own Newsletter, please e-mail or visit
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